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How to Choose a Domain Name

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Let’s say you decide that you want to promote your work online and want to build a website. Before even starting to think about the technical part (building a site is actually much easier than you think, as shown in How to Build a Website in Less Than 5 Minutes), you should focus on finding a good – relevant – domain name. This article will provide you with an intuitive and simple process that you can apply whenever you have to make a decision regarding a domain name.

As you might have seen in our guide How to Build a Website in Less Than 5 Minutes (if you haven’t yet, give it a look), building your website can be easier than you think. In fact, even without any particular coding or programming background, you can get your site or blog up and running in a matter of minutes. However, building a website is only half of the work. Choosing the right domain name for a site can make the difference between attracting new followers and  missing out on ones. When thinking about selecting a domain name, there are 6 steps you should take:

1. Brainstorm and come up with 3-4 keywords

When starting your domain name search, it’s good to come up with a few key terms of phrases that best describe the domain you have in mind. Before starting with your domain search, choose a web hosting service (we recommend Bluehost, the same we are using). They all have tools you can use for searching domain names and you can do that before completing the sign up process. If you want your domain to be something like yourfirstnameyourlastname.com, you can try  and go for it. Keep your fingers crossed because that domain might be available…and the same goes for your stage or band name, the domain names for those might be available too. If you have absolutely no idea on how to come up with good key terms for your domain, you can have a look at this article.

2. Don’t get too fancy

Ideally, you want to choose a domain that is not too long or too confusing. If possible, try avoid using acronyms, dashes, numbers or other symbols that may confuse visitors who are not familiar with what you do. Remember that there’s nothing better than name that people can easily remember.

3. (Sometimes) the shorter the better

As said, it is better to avoid using acronyms unless you already have an established name/brand and have followers who know you by that acronym. Think about these two examples: the Jazz Journalists Association and the Jazz Spotlight. Those who are familiar with the Jazz Journalists Association know that it often uses a short version for its name: JJA. For new visitors, JJA can be easily to remember, because it is not a common acronym. The situation, on the other hand, is much different for the Jazz Spotlight. If instead of thejazzspotlight.com we had chosen the domain be js.com, those who don’t know the Jazz Spotlight might have ended up thinking that js.com is a website dedicated to the popular programming language JavaScript. This, because JS is commonly associated with JavaScript. If you want to use an acronym, make a quick research to make sure that no other relevant brand is associated with it. You don’t want new visitors to be confused.

4. Be careful not to register domain names that include trademarked names

This is pretty much self-explanatory, isn’t it? Just don’t register a domain that includes trademarked names to avoid having legal issues.

5. (If possible) go for a .com domain name

Many people still assume that most websites end with the .com suffix. However, there is plenty of .net .org .co, etc. domains out there. If you have a different domain than .com but your website ranks well on search engines, then people can still find your website through them. If not, you risk to lose potential visitors and fans. This is something you should avoid! Long story short, simply try to go for a .com domain. You can use these free tools to check if the domain you would like to use is available.

 6. Don’t leave people guessing

This point relates to point number 3. Remember the Jazz Spotlight-JavaScript example? Well, leaving people guessing is something you want to avoid, when choosing a domain name for your website. Ideally, when someone hears about your domain name for the first time, they should be able to accurately guess the type of content that might be found on your site. Of course, a domain name that includes a person’s name doesn’t really give any clue (unless the person has already an established reputation). The Jazz Spotlight, though, is a domain that goes in the right direction: it revolves around the keyword “jazz” and “spotlight”. Even those who are not familiar with the website, could probably guess that the site is somehow related to jazz… and that’s more than correct! 🙂 Think about the js.com example one more time. By using this acronym we would only attract people looking for information about JavaScript, which has an established reputation and is known as js, while we could miss out on potential followers (some people interested in jazz might come across the Jazz Spotlight by “accident”).

Now that you have chosen your domain name you are officially ready to start building your website or having someone doing that for you.

We would love to hear from you and share your tips with others! What process are you using, when you have to get a domain name?  Share your comments here or gives us a shout out on  Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Looking forward to reading your comments!